Why Is QB J.J. McCarthy Suddenly Flying Up Mock Draft Boards?

The ex-Michigan quarterback's hype train is rapidly picking up speed

Michigan's J.J. McCarthy throws the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He's now expected by some to be the No. 2 overall pick at the NFL Draft in April.
J.J. McCarthy has seen his draft stock rise dramatically in recent days.
Ezra Shaw/Getty

With St. Patrick’s Day in the rearview mirror, spring officially sprung and April’s NFL Draft rapidly approaching, pro football’s Lying Season has begun.

What’s Lying Season? It’s the time of year when off-field trick plays reign supreme and teams spread misinformation and send mixed signals about who they are targeting in the draft and why. “April should be known in the NFL as National Liars Month,” Gil Brandt, former NFL personnel guru, told USA Today in 2019. “Everybody is trying to create a smokescreen, both ways. It increases every year. It’s like the pole vault, where the record goes up every year. There are more smokescreens. More subterfuge. A very interesting time of year.”

This year is no different, as evidenced by former Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who led the Wolverines to the national championship in January and had an immaculate 27-1 overall record in college, flying up mock draft boards like a rocket ship. Originally considered to be a borderline first-round pick despite his pristine pedigree, the 21-year-old is now projected to go in the top 10 next month and some executives believe McCarthy could go to the Commanders at No. 2 overall.

“It’s been really interesting, because everybody is always trying to figure out — especially at the top of the draft — what the other teams are doing,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said this week. “When I’ve had conversations here with executives for other teams who know [Washington GM] Adam Peters well, know the situation well, the most popular answer for what they do at No. 2 is J.J. McCarthy. So a lot of drama still to come.”

With ex-USC quarterback Caleb Williams widely believed to be going off the board to the Bears at No. 1 overall, pundits have been split about the order in which quarterbacks Jayden Daniels (LSU) and Drake Maye (North Carolina) should be selected. McCarthy leapfrogging Daniels and Maye would be a huge upset and a massive surprise, but Jim Harbaugh, who could theoretically select his former quarterback himself as he now coaches the Chargers who have the No. 5 overall pick, thinks it should happen. Or, at least he says he does.

“I think he plays quarterback the best of any quarterback in the draft,” Harbaugh, a former quarterback himself, said on Monday after McCarthy impressed scouts at his pro day. “He’s incredible. So, big market, small market. Cold weather, hot weather, it won’t matter. That was the best throwing day I’ve ever seen. Like I predicted, once they were around him, I was hearing the stories about how he is on the board, how he is on the field, the little things, the intangibles. I mean, it was absolutely no surprise whatsoever. But yeah, there was raving, and it was great to hear and incredible to hear.”

Losing Heisman Won’t Matter If Michael Penix Wins CFP Title Game
The Heisman Tropohy runner-up will lead Washington against Michigan next week

Harbaugh could put his money where his mouth is and offer his starting quarterback, Justin Herbert, to the Commanders for the No. 2 pick. But we’re guessing he won’t. That said, it appears that some people in the know believe the buzz around McCarthy going second overall is real as DraftKings Sportsbook has moved his odds of being selected with the No. 2 pick from +2500 to +500, according to ProFootballTalk.

That’s a fairly massive jump, especially considering there was no guarantee McCarthy was even going to be taken in the first round about a month ago. But, that was a month ago…before the NFL’s Lying Season had really kicked off.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!